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Captain Marvel (2019)

Synopsis of Captain Marvel

Marvel Studios’ Captain Marvel takes you on a spectacular adventure from the 1990s, tracing the path of Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) as she becomes one of the universe’s most powerful heroes. When a galactic war reaches Earth, she meets young agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) at the center of a maelstrom, leading to her ultimate destiny.

Captain Marvel (2019) starring Brie Larson, Samuel L. Jackson

Trigger warning: this review was written by a white male.

Isn’t that a stupid way to begin a review? Yet the star of Captain Marvel made it very plain that she didn’t want white men to review “her” movie. Which is both racist and sexist. But, I paid my money to see her film, so I’m going to review it anyway. 🙂

Summary: it wasn’t half-bad. It was neither great, nor terrible.

As a rule, I try to write spoiler-free reviews for new movies (not so for classics, obviously). I’ll do my best to do the same here.

Positives about Captain Marvel

  • The CGI was beautiful – alien cities looked nice, costuming and makeup was also gorgeous.
  • Samuel L. Jackson gave his standard, excellent, performance as a young Nick Fury.
  • Clark Gregg did a fine job as a young, newbie S.H.I.E.L.D. agent – but didn’t have much screen time.
  • Jude Law did a great performance as the Kree Colonel Yon-Rogg. A much more nuanced version of the character, compared to the comic book original. Someone that the audience can actually sympathize with — at least for the first half of the movie.
  • Ben Mendelsohn did a great job as the shape-shifting Skrull — though probably with too much humor in the second half of the movie.
  • It was nice to see some old “friends” again – Ronan the Accuser, etc.

Negatives about Captain Marvel

  • Gemma Chan (as the Kree sniper & Captain Marvel’s teammate Minn-Erva) sums it up in one sentence, towards the end of the film: “I just don’t like you.” Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, as portrayed here, isn’t very likable. Yes, she’s powerful. No, she’s not a Mary Sue (although she comes close). No, she’s not a “social justice warrior” ideal of feminism (although she comes close). But the character’s simply not likable. It’s hard to root for her.
  • Captain Marvel is a soldier who refuses to take orders. And then blames everyone else when she’s not promoted, etc. That’s not how the military works.
  • Captain Marvel violates a cardinal rule of good movie making — show me, don’t tell me. Her best friend Maria Rambeau (well acted by Lashana Lynch) tells the audience how wonderful she once was, a great friend, honorary aunt to her daughter, etc. But the audience never sees that. We see someone who destroys other people’s property without an apology. Someone who’s condescending, and smug. Yes, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is also smug and condescending. But he has other traits that make the audience overlook his flaws. That’s not true here.
  • Another good example of “show me” is the Kree sniper Minn-Erva. There’s a scene where a fellow Kree is telling her to not target the civilians since they’re not Skrulls. Only for her to realize that the person talking to her is a shape-shifting Skrull. She quickly takes him out and starts sniping at the Skrulls below. The movie makers didn’t have to tell us that she’s intelligent, quick-witted, or a highly-skilled fighter. Because they show us.

In short, Captain Marvel is a good (but not great) entry into the MCU. I rate it:

  • Better than Iron Man 2, nowhere near as good as Iron Man 1.
  • Better than Thor 2, not as good as either Thor 1 or Thor: Ragnarok.
  • Worse than all of the Captain America movies to date.

But, what would I know? I’m just one of those yucky white males — who are over 60% of the audience for the movie.

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